People are the smart units
No one knows more about a city and how it functions than the people who live and work there. Ask the auto-rickshaw driver to take you from one place and the other by the shortest possible route and he will do so without needing a GPRS device. Ask the postman about an address and he will tell you the exact address.
For example, Pune is a melting pot of diverse cultures. It is also a city of skilled and talented people. On the back of a flourishing engineering and IT industry, are highly qualified city dwellers that can bring to bear their collective intelligence and expertise that would be unrivalled. The Oxford of the East also has a population of bright, young students who pursue degrees in management, engineering and liberal arts. And yet, does the city know what the city knows?
The true smartness of a city is in providing opportunities to them for greater involvement in city improvements.
Degrees or smartness?
But is just the presence of smart people in any city make it any smarter? You could have a whole lot of smart people in one place that do not interact with each other, or get involved in city development initiatives. It takes creation and nurturing of platforms to give people the voice, the tools to contribute and acknowledgement for their contributions.
With a large population of city dwellers now possessing smart phones, how difficult would it be to report infrastructure failure, road rage, security breaches, errant auto drivers and more? Every day, city dwellers encounter difficulties and they know the clear apathy and failure of conventional complaint systems. They need a specially purposed platform to listen, analyze and act.
Diversity and social participation
Everyday a city receives new entrants. These new and existing populations support the growth and sustainability of creative, knowledge-based cities. They provide connections to new ideas, networks and knowledge. People feel more connected to their city and community when that diversity is reflected visibly in the city and they are included in the city’s growth. People are the biggest asset of a smarter city.
City leadership and corporates need to come together to provide that meeting place, listen to what citizens have to say about quality of life, analyze conversations, prioritize actions and then engage the community in finding solutions.